Dog walking on heathland

22 October 2020 | Posted in Burton Pond , Graffham Common , Iping Common
Dog walking on heathland
© Tom Marshall

By Steve Webster

Reserve Manager

By far, one of the main reasons many people visit the countryside is to exercise a dog or dogs. Walking the family pet also provides fresh air and exercise for the owners too. Nationally there has been an increase in dog ownership across the UK, with resulting increasing use and pressure on our nature reserves and open spaces. Sussex Wildlife Trust has been working closely with the South Downs National Park on assessing this use across many sites in Sussex, especially on the vulnerable heathlands under an initiative called Heathlands Reunited.

Emma Stanbury, Project Officer for the Heathland Reunited Project explains. “We are in the process of carrying out a follow-up survey on dog walking behaviour on heathlands sites within the Heathlands Reunited Project area. This is a follow up to one that was undertaken in 2018 and will allow us to assess the success of the Take the Lead campaign element of the project. The aim of the Take the Lead campaign is to encourage responsible dog walking and reduce the negative impact of certain dog walking behaviours on heathlands and other habitats."

The survey on dog walking behaviour is aimed at those who walk dogs in the South Downs National Park including dog owners, as well as those who walk dogs for others, such as dog walking professionals.  

The survey is voluntary and your opinions and experiences will be very valuable. The questionnaire takes on average no more than 10 minutes and does not ask for personally identifiable data. 

Please click here to take the survey before 13 November .  

The survey results will be used to inform project activities aimed at conserving and improving heathlands sites and will contribute to a report. 

We are really keen to hear from as many dog walkers as possible, so please do share this survey link with other dog walkers in your area. 

If you have any queries about this survey, please contact: [email protected]  

Sussex Wildlife Trust are supporting this initiative as project partners in the Heathland Reunited scheme.

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